After waking to the disturbing linens, we go to eat breakfast. We feel so much better after sleeping. We decide that we are not going to let the hiccups of yesterday to trip us up. I am supposed to be speaking at 1:30pm today; we have our table; and this conference is so important that obviously Satan will be trying to mess it all up. We have a new look at life and a skip in our step. We look like Peter Parker walking down the sidewalk in Spiderman 2. Well, that was all a lie. The hills mean that we kind of shuffle along or limp up stairs. But we have a better view for sure.
I, however, am fighting a ton of stuff in my head. I have been around gay people. But I have not interacted much in my later life. I hadn't seen Sue in 16 years. I haven't talked to George in at least five - but those interactions are few and far between. I have all the typical Southern Baptist, southern male stereotypes in my head. I can't help but wondering who here used to be gay. When you see a married couple, which one is the recovering one? I also ask myself the question, "If they really are serious, why do they still act so, you know, gay?" There are a lot of guys who walk a little weird, or who wax their eyebrows, or who use a lot of hair product. I feel nervous - why I have no idea. I have a feeling I'm not exactly a prime lust source for much of anyone. I tell Heather about my thoughts. She shakes her head at my denseness.
After getting our table gussied up better and more suited for visitors without us there, we go to the morning worship service. We are about a half hour late, and the speaker is now a mother giving a testimony about her gay son. It was a heartbreaking story, and one that really drove home the entire conference purpose. This lady's husband had died at 46, and her older son had died three years later when he was killed as a cop in the line of duty. A few years later, he only other son shared he was gay. She shared how one day she was crushed and crying about the whole thing a few years later. God spoke to her and said, you know how hurt you are over that? That's how I feel whenever you sin. It really took her breath away. Heather and I looked at each other, both really hit by what is being shared.
Then the worship band came up and started a couple very worshipful songs. What happened next embarrassed me. The crowd was singing. They had their hands up. Their faces were raised. I was embarrassed and ashamed because of how passionate they were. Their hands weren't up for show - it was like they were trying to push their love for God up, and their hands got them that much closer. Their faces were glowing with love and joy. There was an older couple in front of us - the wife was so weak she couldn't stand up. The husband waved his hands in the air. And she had her one hand raised up a little bit, sweetly singing. I started to cry. The songs were about God's mercy and love and grace. I realized how these people - the same ones that I was sitting there judging and worrying about just an hour before - really knew God. They understood what grace and mercy was. They knew what it was to love God. Here I am, this teacher and pastor - writer of eleven books for other teachers and pastors. And I don't get it at all. I am so dense. I was floored. These people had already gone through a traumatic time of rejection and hurt when they came out about being gay. They were shunned and hated by friends, family, and church people. Then they went through it again when they turned from that life to become a Christian. And they again were shunned and hated by friends, family, and some church people. But they were standing there rejoicing and praising God.
By the time Sy Rogers got up to speak, I was already pretty humbled. Then he busted out more good theology in the first two minutes then I have heard in some entire years of my life. He was amazing. It was the first time I ever heard him speak - or his story. He had been gay - very gay - and even looked into becoming a woman. But God saved him. Now he's been married for 25 years, has a daughter who got married this spring, and he led his 79 year old father to Christ in June. Plus, he has a worldwide ministry. He talked about how God is bigger... He's bigger than our sin, our inadequacies, our pain, our history. Then he said God is bigger than our mannerisms. He said that he still gets asked by some people, "If you are so serious about this, why don't you butch up?" His answer is, "I Have! Am I wearing a dress?" My response was, OOOFFF. Yes he mentioned the same exact question that I had been asking just a little before. Through his sermon, I realized that these people have imprinted in their minds certain behaviors and mannerisms and believed they were normal and right. It was fed for years. And this is what they know. Some are able to change that, but others try and try and still have problems. And then he said that even if they keep messing up, even if we all keep messing up, they keep going back to ask for forgiveness until it complete.
We were just so blessed by the sermon and his points. It was so true about what Defender teaches, and what we deal with too. Everyone has things that will trip them up a lot. But God is bigger. What an awesome morning.